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Wasted Opportunities Cost Crew SC in Loss

The game can change in an instant and the Black & Gold couldn't take advantage of early chances.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Soccer is a game of inches. One this way or that way can make a big difference between winning and losing.

Columbus Crew SC's 3-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night is a prime example of this fact.

"Yeah we definitely dodged a couple of bullets like you are going to against any good team," Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin said after the match. "Ethan Finlay was a handful with a couple runs at us and Aaron Schoenfeld got on the end of a couple crosses."

Attacking midfielder Federico Higuain had the first chance of the match in the fifth minute. After a cross from Finlay was deflected up in the air, Crew SC's No. 10 struck a full volley that narrowly missed the top corner of Union goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre's net.

Bullet dodged for Philly and an opportunity missed for Columbus.

In the 27th minute, forward Aaron Schoenfeld, who started in place of usual striker Kei Kamara, had the chance of the game for the Black & Gold.

Left back Waylon Francis served an early ball into the Union's penalty area and the 6-foot-4 attacker flicked a header towards the back post. Sylvestre went air born, diving to get a hand on the ball and prevent Crew SC from taking the lead.

"I thought I had a goal," Schoenfeld said about the chance. "Sylvestre made a really good save on that header... You're paid to score goals and I didn't score, so there you go."

It was the play of the day for Philadelphia. If Schoenfeld converts there, and Columbus - which hasn't lost a game when scoring first - takes the lead, it may have been a very different result.

"[I] saw his header coming across and I got my feet set and made the save," Sylvestre said after the match. "We work on it in training so, everything we do in the game we work on in training, so I'm able to make saves in the game."

The Black & Gold had yet another good chance to take the lead in the 35th minute when winger Justin Meram took a short pass from Mohammed Saeid and drove towards goal. Meram saw the chance and uncorked a rocket shot that narrowly missed the crossbar.

Three quality first half opportunities, but no goals for Crew SC. Six minutes later, C.J. Sapong has an easy tap in and the Union led 1-0.

"We threw away a couple of chances early, so if we take one of those, it changes the game up," Schoenfeld said. "Once they score that goal, they have some confidence behind them and start moving the ball a lot better."

Even after the goal, Finlay, who terrorized left back Fabino in the two teams' first meeting, streaked down the right-hand side of the field, cutting to the outside on Philly center back Richie Marquez, Finlay fired a shot across the face of goal that almost clipped the back post to equalize.

If Finlay converts that chance, Columbus takes the momentum into halftime and have something to build upon in the second half.

Instead, Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark lets a ball slip on a routine distribution play early in the second half and Vincent Nogueria makes the Black & Gold pay with a chip for the score. 2-0 to the Union and the rest, they say, is history.

The Columbus player don't have time to look back and wonder what might have been, as they will be back on the field Saturday night at home. There, the team will look to put this game behind them and get back to what has worked this season.

"We need to re-find our identity and our winning mentality," Schoenfeld said for Saturday. "Obviously it's [four] games now without a win and once we get back at MAPFRE Stadium with our fans behind us, we have to re-group and punish teams."